First. I shall lay down the grounds with which a hypocrite shores up his rotten house, and will show the falsities of them. The hypocrite will stand upon his defence, his heart is sincere. Well how will he prove it?
- False Ground. The hypocrite will say ‘Sure I am no hypocrite, for I cannot endure it in another.’
Answer. This is not enough to clear thee from being a hypocrite, except thou canst show thou dost this from a holy ground. Jehu, that asked Jehonadab whether his heart was right, carried at that same time a false one in his own breast. It is very ordinary for a man to decry that in another, and smartly to declaim against it, which he all the while harbours himself. How severe was Judah against Tamar? He commands, in all haste, to burn her, Gen. 38:24. Who would not have thought this man to be chaste? Yet he was the very person that had defiled her. There may be a great cheat in this piece of zeal. Sometimes the very place a man is in, may carry him—as the primum mobile i.e. the first cause of motion] does the stars—in a motion which his own genius and liking would never lead him to. Thus many that are magistrates give the law to drunkards, and swearers, merely to keep the decorum of their place, and shun the clamour that would arise from their neglect, who can possibly do both, when they meet with place and company fit for their purpose. Some [there are whose] zeal against another’s sin is kindled at the disgrace which reflects upon them by it in the eye of the world; and this falls out when the sin is public, and the person that committed it stands related. This is conceived to be Judah’s case, who was willing his daughter should be taken out of the way, that the blot which she had brought on his family might with her be out of sight. Some again find it a thriving trade, and make this advantage of inveighing against others’ faults, to hide their own the better, that they may carry on their own designs with less suspicion. Absalom asperseth his father’s government, as a stirrup to help himself into the saddle. Jehu loved the crown more than he hated Jezebel’s whoredoms, for all his loud cry against them. In a word—for it is impossible to hit all—there may be much of revenge in it, and the person is rather shot at than his sin. This was observed of Antony’s zeal against Augustus, odit tyrannum amavit tyranidem—he hated the tyrant, but loved well enough the tyranny.
- False Ground. The hypocrite saith, ‘I am bold and fearless in dangers; sure I am no hypocrite;’ but it is ‘the righteous’ that ‘is bold as a lion.’
Answer. The better way, sure, were to try thy boldness by thy sincerity, than to conclude thy sincerity by thy boldness. Truly confidence, and a spirit undaunted at death and danger, are glorious things, when the Spirit and Word of Christ stand by to vouch them—when the creature can give some account of the hope that is in him, as Paul, who shows how he came by it. This [is] Christian, not Roman courage, Romans 5:1-4. Many rooms one passeth before coming to this, which indeed joins upon heaven itself. Faith is the key which lets him into all. First, it opens the door of justification, and lets it into a state of peace and reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ, ‘being justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,’ Romans 5:1. Through this he passeth on to another room—the presence-chamber of God’s favour—and is admitted nigh unto him, as a traitor once pardoned is; ‘by whom also we have access by him into this grace wherein we stand,’ ver. 2; that is, we have not only our sins pardoned, and our persons reconciled to God by faith in Christ, but now under Christ’s wing, we are brought to court as it were, and stand in his grace as favourites before their prince. This room opens into a third room—and ‘rejoice in the hope of glory.’ We do not only at present enjoy the grace and favour of God and communion with him here, but have from this a hope firmly planted in our hearts for heaven’s glory hereafter. Now he is brought to the most inward room of all, which none can come at but he that goes through all the former, ver. 3. ‘And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also.’ If thou hast not entered at these doors, thou art a thief and a robber; thou gettest thy confidence too quickly to have it brought to thy hand by God. If God means thee well for eternity, he will make thee smart for this thy boldness, as he did Jacob for stealing his father’s blessing; and therefore content not thyself with a bare boldness and confidence in dangers, but inquire whether it hath a Scripture bottom and basis to stand on, or whether the pillars supporting it, be not ignorance in thy mind, and stupidity in thy conscience. If the latter, thou art in a sad condition. Thy boldness will last no longer than thou seest it doth in one that is drunk; who, when he is wine-sprung, thinks, as they say, he can skip over the moon, and ventures to go without fear upon precipices and pitfalls, [but,] when sober, trembles to see what he did in his drunken fit. Nabal that feared nothing when drunk—his heart dies within him and became as stone, at the story Abigail told him in the morning, when the wine was gone out of him, I Sam. 25:37. Therefore, as he [who,] when his cause miscarried through the sleepiness of the judge on the bench, ‘appealed from the judge asleep to the judge awake;’ so do I here with you, that through the present stupidity of conscience are bold and fearless of death, and from this plead your uprightness. I appeal from your conscience asleep, to the sentence it will give when it shall be awake; which I wish may be in this world, that you may see your mistake where you may amend it.